Some Valid Reasons for Joining a Medical Scheme
There was once a time when there would have been no reason for you or for any South African to need to belong to a medical scheme. In the early part of the 20th century, the state-funded national health service’s facilities were established and were then well positioned to provide healthcare for the majority of the country’s citizens, albeit on a segregated basis. Treatment was totally free to the unemployed, while those with jobs were charged a nominal fee for a visit and for extras, such as medication.
Despite excellent facilities, the number of those seeking attention at state hospitals and clinics soon began to reach levels that resulted in crowded waiting rooms and long waiting lists for all but the most urgent surgical procedures. At this point, many of those who could afford it turned to the private sector for their healthcare, leaving those who could not to simply join the growing queues at public facilities.
As a sole or joint breadwinner, your health is important both to you and to your family and, today, this has become one of the main reasons that you need to belong to a medical aid scheme. Those escalating costs have affected the private sector clinics just as much as those funded by the state, and the cost of a relatively straightforward procedure, such as an appendectomy, could set you back more than R50K, which could amount to as much as two month’s take-home pay for some. Compare this with the monthly cost of insuring you and your family for an entire year against the cost of such a procedure, along with any other medical attention that may prove necessary. You will find that to seek some form of insurance is the only sensible choice and, quite obviously, a total no-brainer.
Today, even finding the money for monthly premiums is presenting difficulties for a growing number of South Africans. To cater for them, many of the country’s medical aids have striven to design more affordable products that will not just provide them with a reason to belong to a scheme, but that will also ensure that they can actually afford to do so.
Health is seldom one of the primary concerns of young people who, in most cases, are only rarely ill enough to warrant seeking professional healthcare and whose ailments are invariably resolved by OTC (over-the-counter) medications or an occasional doctor’s prescription. This, however, does not preclude them from the risk that they may be faced with a crippling hospital bill. A motorcycle accident resulting in a broken limb or acute appendicitis is all that it takes to leave someone on a modest income deeply in debt. Thus, in reality, even the young and enviably group are not without their reasons for needing to belong to a medical scheme.
If you need any further convincing of the importance of seeking cover for your private healthcare expenses, then consider some statistics published by South Africa’s Council for Medical Schemes, the industry’s regulatory body. Around 87 schemes are currently active and serve a total of almost 9 million beneficiaries. Each year, they collect almost R130 billion and are responsible for around 95% of the total income received by the private healthcare industry – even more reasons to belong to a medical scheme.